FAIRFIELD — Fairfield Mayor Harry Price calls Jelly Belly the “sweetest place west of the Mississippi River.”
Parade magazine is also sweet on Jelly Belly. Its weekend issue includes Jelly Belly on its list of seven “real-life Willy Wonkas,” the candy meccas worth making a road trip to see. It’s found inside Saturday’s print edition of the Daily Republic.
That means both Jelly Belly and Fairfield are getting some national publicity as a destination. Parade urges people to come and take the 40-minute tour to see how Jelly Bellys get made and to try out the candy sample bar.
Jelly Belly is hardly an unknown, even before the Parade article. It gained national publicity in the 1980s when President Ronald Reagan said he was a fan.
Nor are the Jelly Belly tours a stranger to the national media. Company spokeswoman Tomi Holt said Jelly Belly was chosen by Reader’s Digest a few years ago as being a top tour location. About 380,000 visitors a year tour the Fairfield plant.
“We certainly have people coming from all over the country,” Holt said. “We have visitors even internationally. . . . Letting them know we are here is often all you need to do to get them to come.”
Anand Patel, president of the Fairfield Conference and Visitors Bureau, said he’s not surprised Jelly Belly got the mention in Parade.
“I would have been surprised if it wasn’t included on that type of list,” Patel said. “Jelly Belly has such huge brand recognition, not only domestically, but even internationally.”
And, once people come to Fairfield to see Jelly Belly, they might stay an extra night at a local hotel and go see other local attractions as well, he said.
“I think Jelly Belly has started to really embrace that,” Patel said. “Their goal is to keep them here longer. They’ve been working with groups such as ourselves, groups such as Suisun Valley, to try to elevate the public awareness on what there is to do in Fairfield.”
He noted Jelly Belly recently started its Chocolate and Wine Experience. Participants eat chocolate confections made by Jelly Belly and drink Suisun Valley wines.
Price said he goes to Jelly Belly for events on a regular basis.
“The one thing that really gets my attention is Jelly Belly is a family tour,” Price said. “The parents wear those paper hats as well as the kids and have such a good time.”
Once people have finished with the Jelly Belly tour, they might go to other local destinations, such as Suisun Valley, he said.
For example, Price said, people travel quite a distance to go to the annual Meyer Cookware warehouse sale in Fairfield. He advises those people to also go to visit Jelly Belly, Anheuser-Busch and the Suisun Valley, he said.
The Parade magazine features candy because Halloween is fast approaching. The holiday and its candy connection isn’t lost on Jelly Belly. Jelly Belly has a haunted house through Thursday as part of its free, daily tour.
Go to www.jellybelly.com for more information on Jelly Belly and its tours.
Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.